Welcome to Portland, Oregon
Portland, Oregon, has often been called the big city with the small town feel. Its mild weather, breathtaking scenery, exciting location and friendly people have all contributed to its unique appeal and livability.
Nestled between the beautiful Coast Range on the west and the spectacular Cascade Range on the east, Portland sits at the junction of the Columbia and Willamette rivers. From downtown Portland, it’s just a 90 minute drive to the scenic Oregon coast, an hour-and-a-half to Mt. Hood and some of the best skiing in the country, a half-an-hour to the peaceful vineyards and farms of the fertile Willamette Valley, and less than three hours to a Mariner’s game in Seattle.
With an ethnically diverse population of almost 2 million, Portland is the 28th largest metropolitan area in the country, the fourth largest city on the West Coast, and the largest city in the state. It includes six counties spread over 5000 square miles.
In 1806, Lewis and Clark discovered the land that would later become the city of Portland. Asa Lovejoy, a native of Massachusetts, and Francis Pettygrove, a native of Maine, founded the city in 1851. Lovejoy wanted to name this city after his beloved Boston, but Pettygrove wanted to name it after his hometown of Portland. A coin toss settled the dispute, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Sheltered by two mountain ranges, Portland enjoys mild weather all year long, rarely experiencing the severe weather extremes common to much of the rest of the country.
However, that doesn’t mean that Portland doesn’t have seasons. July and August are warm and dry, with average high temperatures in the upper 70’s and lower 80’s. The occasional winter snowstorm blankets the city in a few inches of snow that stay around long enough to be enjoyed but rarely long enough to annoy. In the fall, the many deciduous trees around the city put on a colorful show to delight the eye. And spring blossoms prove that Portland truly is the “City of Roses.”
Portland's Neighborhood and Surrounding Communities
The Portland metropolitan area is made up of portions of six counties. Within each of these counties are cities and towns with their own unique flavor, and within the city of Portland there are dozens of distinctive neighborhoods.
At 465 square miles, Multnomah County is, geographically, the smallest county in the state. However, it boasts the largest population.
The city of Portland is divided into 94 neighborhoods, each with their own neighborhood association. A strong political and social force within the city, the neighborhood associations solve problems, create communities, promote business, and work together to preserve the character and charm of each unique neighborhood.
Portland’s downtown core is located in the city’s southwest quadrant. Easy parking, free public transportation, and tree-lined, pedestrian-friendly streets make downtown Portland an enjoyable place to work, shop, eat or just people watch. With luxurious apartments, condominiums and lofts, downtown Portland is a great place to live as well. Many downtown residences feature spectacular views, off street parking, and other amenities.
Just west of downtown, the West Hills neighborhood is home to some of Portland’s grandest mansions. Known as Portland Heights, this neighborhood offers panoramic views of the city, stately homes and beautiful gardens. The Corbett neighborhood, just south of downtown, features turn-of-the-century Victorian homes. The Johns Landing area that runs along the waterfront of the Willamette River is known for its unique shops, office complexes and condominiums. The Terwilliger neighborhood, located above John’s Landing, is home to Lewis & Clark College and OHSU.
Northwest Portland combines old and new, single- and multi-family dwellings to provide an attractive neighborhood for artists, young professionals and senior citizens. Northwest is home to trendy neighborhoods like the Pearl District, Nob Hill and Old Town/Chinatown. The Northwest Portland area features Forest Park, the largest forested urban wilderness park in the country, and the Pittock Mansion, a stately French Renaissance manor built by publishing magnate Henry Pittock in the early 20th Century. This example of gracious Victorian living is open to the public throughout the year.
North Portland is home to many neighborhoods, including St. John’s, Overlook, and Jantzen Beach. The St. John’s neighborhood is named for the St. John’s Bridge. This gothic style bridge was built by Dr. D.B. Steinman in the early 1930’s, and was, according to Dr. Steinman, “the most beautiful bridge in the world.” The Overlook neighborhood is so named for the bluff overlooking the Willamette River. This area of gracious residences is home to the University of Portland. On the banks of the Columbia River, the Jantzen Beach neighborhood includes Delta Park, Portland International Raceway, and Jantzen Beach SuperCenter.
Elliot, Irvington, Alameda, Rose City, Laurelhurst, Grant Park, and Beaumont are just a sampling of the well-established neighborhoods that make up the northeast quadrant of the city. Marked by Victorian, English Tudor, and Craftsman style architecture, Northeast Portland has shown an increase in popularity over the last two decades. The fashionable Laurelhurst neighborhood actually straddles Northeast and Southeast Portland, and includes beautiful Laurelhurst Park, one of the city’s premier places for walking, playing or just relaxing.
Southeast Portland boasts Mt. Tabor Park, an extinct volcano with a natural amphitheater; Crystal Springs Rhododendron Test Gardens; Reed College; and Oaks Park, the area’s oldest permanent amusement park. Its proximity to the downtown core area and its diverse neighborhoods, ranging from the gracious to the quirky, make Southeast Portland one of the most popular residential areas in the city.
Gresham and Troutdale
The second largest city in Multnomah County, Gresham is the gateway to the scenic Columbia Gorge. Home to Mt. Hood Community College, Gresham is the eastern end of the MAX light rail line. To the north of Gresham, you’ll find the towns of Troutdale, Fairview and Wood Village. If you’re looking for real estate bargains, you’ve come to the right place. This area has some of the best “home for the dollar” values in the county.
Just south of Multnomah County, Clackamas County is home to Mt. Hood and the country’s only year round skiing at Timberline Lodge.
Located on the eastern shore of the Willamette River, Milwaukie is a comfortable mix of well-established neighborhoods and new housing developments. Situated between the Willamette and Clackamas River, Milwaukie offers plenty of opportunities for fishing, boating and swimming.
South of Milwaukie lies the town of Gladstone. Featuring “Auto Row”, a stretch of McLoughlin Boulevard offering auto dealerships for almost every make of foreign and American car, Gladstone is the “go to” place for car shoppers. Located on the east bank of the Willamette River, Gladstone provides 112 acres of park land providing year round opportunities for recreation in the great outdoors.
The county seat of Clackamas County, Oregon City was once the capital of the Oregon Territory. Oregon City is the oldest incorporated city west of the Mississippi River and the official end of the Oregon Trail. Many of the city’s homes and buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places, and the city takes pride in preserving its historical and architectural heritage. With 26 parks, a municipal pool, and a recreation center, Clackamas Community College, Oregon City is a great place to raise a family.
Eight miles southwest of Portland, Lake Oswego sits on the west bank of the Willamette River. The centerpiece of this town is its namesake, Oswego Lake. The city of Lake Oswego takes its responsibility to maintain the livability of the area very seriously. For this reason, the Parks and Recreation Department manages almost 400 acres of developed and undeveloped parks, natural areas and green spaces.
Beautiful custom homes cover the hillsides of West Linn, a community with elevations ranging from 40 to 580 feet above sea level. Many of those homes feature breathtaking views of the Willamette Valley, the Willamette and Tualatin Rivers, and a spectacular stretch of the Cascade Range that includes Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Adams. Located on the west side of the Willamette River, West Linn is one of the fastest growing communities in the metro area.
The community of Wilsonville sits halfway between Portland and Salem. Its unique location between two of Oregon’s major urban centers has made it a popular destination for the corporate headquarters and distribution centers of various companies from around the Pacific Northwest. The 98-acre Memorial Park located on the Willamette River provides facilities for a variety of recreational pursuits.
To the west of Multnomah County, Washington County covers 727 square miles and is currently the fastest growing area in the state. The county owes much of its growth to its thriving high tech industry. Washington County is also home to some of the most productive agricultural land in the state.
Just west of downtown Portland, Beaverton is a thriving community. Over one third of the houses, apartments, and condominiums in Beaverton have been built within the last ten years. The Tualatin Parks and Recreation Department maintains 150 parks and recreation facilities, as well as eight community swim centers, a skate park and lovely community gardens. A brand new state of the art library beckons adults and children alike.
At the west end of the MAX light rail line sits Hillsboro, the areas center for high technology and the county seat. Moderately priced homes, convenient transportation, and large employers, such as Intel and Nike, make Hillsboro the first choice for many people moving to the Portland Metro Area.
Southwest of Portland, nestled in the Tualatin Valley, is the community of Tigard. Just off I-5, Tigard boasts more than 300 acres of nature areas, green spaces, and parks, including Fanno Creek Park and Cook Park on the banks of the Tualatin River. Tigard is also home to Washington Square, the west side’s premier shopping mall. Every summer, Tigard plays host to the area’s largest Hot Air Balloon festival, which draws participants from across the country. Recently opened, the new Tigard library houses books, videos, a coffee shop and an historical museum.
Ten miles south of Portland, Tualatin straddles both Washington and Clackamas counties. Tualatin’s commitment to livability has been nationally recognized. For the last 12 years, the city has received the designation of Tree City, USA. Tualatin boasts a strong commercial core and carefully planned residential communities.
Southwest of Portland, Yamhill County is famous for its rich agricultural land. In recent years, Yamhill County’s prolific fruit and nut orchards have been joined by more than 100 vineyards and 40 wineries, producing a wide variety of award winning wines including the world’s premier pinot noir.
Yamhill County is home to George Fox University, Linfield College, and the Evergreen Aviation Museum, which houses Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose.